[How to investigate a patient with exophthalmos?]

J Neuroradiol. 2002 Sep;29(3):161-72.
[Article in French]


Exophthalmos is the main symptom revealing orbital masses. This sign needs to be imaged mainly by MRI and/or CT. As Graves disease is the main etiology of exophthalmos, CT scan should be performed as the initial imaging modality. Indications for US and Doppler are mostly limited to the study of ocular masses, and eventually may help the characterization of extra-ocular lesions. In all cases, imaging is useful to characterize: the precise location of the lesion which can be the intra-conal space (including muscles), the extra-conal space (associated or not to an extra-orbital lesion), or the eyeball; the features of the lesion (density, signal, enhancement.). These findings are used to generate a differential diagnosis. Imaging is also useful to precise the extension of the mass, and in some cases to select the appropriate surgical approach, and for follow-up.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Exophthalmos / classification
  • Exophthalmos / diagnosis*
  • Exophthalmos / etiology*
  • Exophthalmos / therapy
  • Graves Disease / complications
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Medical History Taking
  • Orbital Neoplasms / classification
  • Orbital Neoplasms / complications
  • Patient Selection
  • Physical Examination
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler